As most of you are already used to, we always bring information about football in Oceania in our Facebook page. With this new website we intend to bring more and more features and content for you!
Interviews are some the novelties that is coming with the website and here we go with our first OFCe official interview with a footballer that played in Oceania early this year.
Hello Federico! How are you? First of all I’d like to thank you for accepting our invitation for this interview. Would you like to start this interview by introducing yourself to our readers?
Thanks for having me, really appreciate it. My name is Federico Diaz I’m 27 years old and I’m a Uruguayan/American footballer.
You recently played in Oceania for Samoan club Kiwi FC. How did you get to Samoa? Who called you to play for Kiwi? May you tell us some details about this negotiation? It’s not everyday that we see a player crossing the whole world to play semi-professional football.
Well… It’s funny you asked this. I actually got in contact with the club through Facebook (laugh). I sent them a video and CV and they offered me a place on the OCL squad. As for negotiations, I did it for the experience as not everyone can say they’ve played in champions league football. I was given some compensation but nothing crazy.
You helped Kiwi to qualify for 2019 Oceania Champions League Group Stage. You also scored a goal against Tupapa Maraerenga. Could you tell us about this Kiwi’s journey in OCL? How was it?
I didn’t do it alone. It was a great team effort that got us through to the groups. The goal was such an amazing feeling but I’m usually pretty good at penalties so I knew that it was gonna go in (laugh). Honestly the whole journey from the qualifiers through the group stage was just amazing! We had so many people cheering for us who believed in us and then even had people who didn’t believe in us cheered for us. I wish I could relive it again, it was truly special.
What were the people reactions to you once you were a foreign player in a small country?
Well, as a foreigner no matter where in the world you go you gotta perform you gotta be the best or better than what they have so I knew I had to go perform. Throughout the journey I felt as I had one below average game (Samoan derby) so I knew I had to pick up my game and I believe I did with a convincing performance in 8-1 win against Lotoha’apai United in OFC Champions League. During this time a sports radio in Uruguay talked about my journey in Samoa and friends and family heard it on the radio. I started receiving messages and phone calls wishing me luck so that also helped me push to be the best I could.
Who was the best player you played alongside in Samoa? And who was the most promising?
I won’t lie, I had a very low idea of how football was in Oceania besides New Zealand so I came thinking everyone was gonna be average or not good, but some guys amazed me like Kenneth Kerewi and Andrew Setefano, two guys with experience in pro leagues, FIFA Club World Cup and have played the lives through the pacific. It was great to play alongside them. There was a few promising guys on Kiwi that could definitely make an impact for Samoa in the future but in the mental aspect I feel they need to break through to make it somewhere whether it be in Australia or New Zealand. I know that they can make it but they have to break that barrier.
You’re currently playing football in USA. Would you like to play in Oceania again? Did you enjoy playing for Kiwi?
I loved it. I had such a great experience with them. I’d be playing there right now if I could. Hopefully in the near future I can have the opportunity to play out in NZ. I would love that so I can keep my footballing career going.
What do you personally think about football in Oceania? What can be done to help local football development?
I think football in Oceania is good but the coaching lacks too much in the tactical side of the game. Many times you see the Kiwis (New Zealand National Football Team) dominating the islands but honestly it’s not because they’re better technically or fitter, it’s just because they are tactically better and in today’s modern game if you lack one of the three things fitness, tactical and technical you’ll lose games. If coaches get taught about the tactical side of the game, Oceania football will grow a lot in the next few years. I also believe some of the leagues should become semi pro and be able to pay their players not with huge amounts of money but just something to keep players motivated and willing to play more and get better so they can eventually move on to bigger and better things.
What do you think about Oceania Football Center work in terms of helping football development in Oceania? Do you feel that these ideas and hardworking of OFCe staff are being successful?
You guys are great and doing an excellent job. Obviously it’s not easy as we both know sometimes it’s very hard to communicate with people from the islands as they don’t answer or answer back way later so it’s hard to try and work with them to help in the game’s development. Most islanders aren’t very keen with outsiders trying to come and help them. But if these things change and they listen to the ideas and projects you guys have, football in the region would blow up and I’m not saying in 2-3 years but maybe if you guys were able to help possibly in the next 5-10 years football would take over from rugby in the Pacific Islands.
First of all, we’d like to thank Federico for the patience to answer all questions. Stay tuned because Oceania Football Center will bring a lot of information on this website!